When you are getting ready to have your first child, there is a lot to learn about in a little bit of time. You have to learn about the health of your baby, what they will need, ready your home for your new arrival and more.
One thing that you will need to consider is the idea of breastfeeding your baby. However, this natural process is frowned upon in many places. If you are in China, though, what can you expect? In this article, we will take a look at the semantics of breastfeeding when you are in China.
Why Is Breastfeeding Important?
Before we go any further, it is important to understand why you should care whether or not you can breastfeed your baby. After all, why deal with the controversy if there is an alternative like formula?
First of all, your breast milk provides your baby with the nutrition that they need. While formula has to work very carefully and hard to get everything in the right proportions for your baby, breast milk has the nutrition that they need proportioned naturally. This makes it perfect for preparing your baby for the world throughout their first six months of life.
Breast milk is also rich in important antibodies. Antibodies are protein that your body produces to combat alien substances in your body such as viruses and bacteria. This is because as the mother is introduced to foreign substances, she produces antibodies which are then passed on to the baby.
However, breastfeeding is good for the mother too. For example, when a mother breastfeeds, the chemical oxytocin is released. One of the things that this does is help the uterus to contract back to its original size faster and it can reduce the amount of blood loss after delivery.
In addition, breastfeeding can also help to combat postpartum depression. This is absolutely crucial as postpartum depression effects up to 15% of new mothers.
If you need a quick reference of this information or the other benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, you can check out this infographic.
Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
One thing that a lot of new moms complain about in China is that in some hospitals, they are prompted to formula feed their children rather than breastfeeding them. This first prompts an ethical problem when you learn that some of these hospitals and doctors receive perks from formula companies in return for promoting their products.
However, the intense formula promotion isn’t the only problem with this. In some hospitals, nurses and doctors are prompted to share misleading information to get mothers to formula feed their newborns. For example, a mother put on a medication and told to stop breastfeeding might be told that there is no version of this medication that allows her to continue breastfeeding. The truth might be, though, that it is extremely infrequent that any medication a new mother would be on doesn’t have a breastfeeding-friendly version.
To combat this, the best course of action is for expecting mothers to be aware of not only their right to breastfeed as mothers, but the health benefits and hard facts of breastfeeding as well. To help, you can always take a breastfeeding class, but if you just want a quick reference, you can start your search with this list of tips.
Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
Despite the fact that there is a lot of formula promotion in standard hospitals, there is something that is being done to help with this. Namely, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a movement started by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). These hospitals are run under the idea that breastfeeding is – in most cases – the best option for both mother and child. As such, they are dedicated to offering services and resources to mothers that will breastfeed during the first six months of their baby’s life.
These hospitals are run in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This code highly suggest the restriction of marketing products like formula to mothers who are capable of breastfeeding their babies. The idea behind this is to promote a practice (breastfeeding) that is usually the healthiest and best course of action for both mother and child.
This is a worldwide initiative but some countries have adopted it in a more widespread fashion than other countries. The United States, for example, only currently has 105 Baby Friendly Hospitals operating in the country. China, though, has an astonishing amount of over 6,000 active Baby Friendly Hospitals dedicated to helping new mothers and promoting breastfeeding. This has made them among some of the widest spread adopters of the program in the world.
NPI – Nursing in Public
Getting the support you need to breastfeed in the hospital is crucial. However, you need to consider past that point as well. After all, if you will be breastfeeding for the full suggested 6 months, you should be aware of the situation you are facing once you are out in the world.
For almost every mother, this means considering about breastfeeding even on those busy days when you are out running errands, working, or even out on your own time. What happens when you need to nurse in public? Will you be able to nurse in peace or will you be subject to backlash?
One study found that in China, 65% of the population (that was recorded in the web survey) thought that mothers should be able to breastfeed in public. However, when considering semi-public nursing (i.e. lactation rooms), that number skyrocketed to 90%.
David Smith is an owner and founder of China Universities and China Study Abroad. He lives in Shanghai, China but travels a lot. He is a blogger and someone who values education above all else.